TEN YEARS HAVE PASSED
I’m a little in shock that a whole ten years has passed since the birth of our first child. Her pregnancy, birth, and life have not been at all what I anticipated, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Jacqueline is a true blessing in our lives, and I believe a blessing to all who know her and her sweet spirit. This may be a longer-than-usual post, but if you take the time to read, know that I appreciate your time and hope you get a blessing from it.
A BABY WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Most people wouldn’t willingly sign up for this, but God gave and blessed us with a child who has special needs. She was born via an emergency c-section. I wasn’t awake for her birth…no time to get in an epidural. Her daddy wasn’t allowed in the operating room because it was done under general anesthesia and the moments leading up to her birth were terrifying. Her heart rate continued to drop much too low, and she needed to get out ASAP. After waking from the anesthesia I was taken to the nursery to see my baby. I noticed her eyes rolling in the back of her head. The nurse assured me this was normal for a newborn, but hours later we learned she was having seizures. She was transferred to another hospital with a NICU that could handle her case…I was left at the hospital.
ANGER AND SADNESS
These two emotions quickly set in. I was separated from my newborn and was now forced to somehow function without a piece of me. (After nine months living in my body, she had most certainly become an extension of me.) I was forced to walk the halls, walking by doors with notes saying, “Please be quiet. Nursing baby and mama…” I also felt jealousy and guilt. Jealousy because other moms had just had completely normal birth experiences. They still had their babies with them and were nursing them like I should have been doing. Guilt because, what if I was the reason she wasn’t with me? What if I had done something to cause this? I felt like this was an especially valid feeling because just a few days before I had prayed that God would just “take me and the baby”. Going through so much at the time, I was completely overwhelmed. Never would I have taken my life, but I didn’t feel as if I had purpose in this world anymore.
LEARNING HER DIAGNOSIS
About a week into her stay in the NICU we were given the news that Jacqueline had brain damage that was caused by an hypoxic ischemic brain injury that happened about a week prior to her birth. We moved a week after her discharge from the NICU from Georgia to New York. There was no time to heal or process what had just happened. No time to “enjoy” my new born baby. I felt like a zombie: my body completely unrecognizable, cut, bruised, sore…no sleep as a new mother, no friends or family around for support and trying to learn a new routine with a new baby and a husband who wasn’t really around because of work. It was hard, and we had to start all over with new doctors in a new situation. And to top it off, I was in denial that anything was wrong with her despite the lengthy medical records and birth report.
At around five months, she was formally diagnosed with mircrocephaly and I was told that I should go ahead an initiate early intervention services. I was uneducated on the process and thought of it as an intrusion rather than a help…I also was still in denial, and for these reasons did not seek help until she was closer to a year old.
REMEMBERING HER BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS
After her birth and initial diagnosis, we were told that she might not walk, talk, see or hear. I remember thinking about what this meant for our future. What it meant for her…I couldn’t help but think of what she would be like in five years and ten years. It’s impossible to know the future, but I couldn’t help but think what she would look like, how she would interact with us and whether-or-not she would be able to live a fairly normal life. Jac started therapy when she was about a year old. She really got a lot of intensive therapy, went to pre-school at three to continue her therapy and workout on early education and foundational skills and even did gymnastics as an addition to her therapy. But she wasn’t like other children her age.
BETTER THAN “NORMAL”
What is “normal”? I really don’t like using this term to describe people because we are all so different. I know that there are generally accepted rates of development and learning, but two kids after Jac have certainly taught me that everyone is different. Different can be good. If I had it to do over, or choose how it happened, I wouldn’t change it…Even the fact that I felt helpless during the situation in the delivery and operating room Why? Because it would change the course of my life.
You see, having Jac the way I did caused me to rely completely and totally on God. It was only after her birth that I was truly able to understand His love for me (and all mankind). It was only after her birth that I could truly appreciate the pregnancies and births of my two sons. Jacqueline’s birth and life has caused me to have a deep understanding and compassion for others that, without this experience, I’m not sure I would have. God, through Jac, gave my a fighting spirit that I didn’t know I had. For all of this I will forever be grateful. He will continue to teach me lessons through her and my sons, but today August 21, 2018, I celebrate Jacqueline Ruth’s 10th birthday with much joy.
No one knows, except God, what our future will hold. There’s still much that we don’t know or understand. Still lots of therapy and the new adventure of homeschooling. God has not given me anything as a mother that He has not fully equipped me to handle. He will guide the way, and we will follow. That’s all I know about our future. God has also given me this platform through my blog and social media to share our story. It’s time to talk more about it. Though my following is small, if I help or encourage one woman who is struggling then it’s all worth me sharing my heart.
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Be encouraged, Mama! You’re not alone.
Until next time…